Made in Abyss arguably has the best opening episode this season. The episode does a perfect job of instilling wonder, world building, and cast introduction without excessive info dumps. It also helps that the art looks fantastic.
Made in Abyss is based on a manga – one that fans promise will tell a dark story despite the soft art style. While being dark doesn’t equate to a good story, you can see some hints at the future danger our kids will face.
It’s impressive how the premiere was able to radiate a magical feeling that created a Studio Ghibli style of wonder. The story takes place in a city built around the opening of an unexplored abyss. Explorers are drawn to the location despite the hostile creatures that live there.
Our protagonists are a group of orphans. Riko is their spunky leader, and she wants to become a great cave raider in hopes of catching up with her missing mother. Nat and Shiggy are her two accomplices that also get into trouble with her. Finally, we meet Reg, who is an amnesiac boy that doesn’t realize he is a robot.
One of the great things about the opening episode is that everything feels natural. Characters don’t have awkward introductions nor do they waste time “re-explaining” the world to everyone. Made in Abyss drip feeds information through background and natural dialogue.
Simple looking shots are packed with visual information that tells us that abyss raiding is often times fatal. The muted colors and weathered architecture gives off a subtle sense of dread, which hints that the citizens may no longer want to explore the abyss due to high fatality rate. The fact that orphans are being trained as raiders also hints that things aren’t quite right.
Despite all this, you still get the feeling of wonder thanks to Riko’s spunk. Riko’s enthusiasm is contagious, and we share her need to explore the great unknown.
Made in Abyss has the signs of being a great adaptation. Just enough information was shared about the setting and cast to spark interest, which will leave non-manga fans wondering about what will happen next episode.